31 Yoga Poses for Beginners

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If you’re new to yoga, you may be intimidated by the sheer quantity of poses and their peculiar names. However, yoga doesn’t have to be difficult. You’ve already performed a yoga pose if you rolled out of bed this morning and crossed your arms over your head. Additionally, keep in mind that practicing yoga is a lifetime endeavor, providing you with ample opportunity to master a variety of poses.

Many basic yoga postures feel very familiar because our bodies bend and fold naturally into poses. Mindfully and with conscious breaths, learn beginner yoga poses first. It’s a good idea to keep things simple when you’re just starting. The yoga poses for beginners that are outlined here are valuable enough to keep you occupied for a long time. Then, as you build your practice, you can take on more challenging poses.

Keep in mind that you don’t have to learn all 31 poses listed below. They are just options for you to choose from and can be learned at your desire and leisure without any pressure to perfect them. Keep reading for more on each pose at 31 Yoga Poses for Beginners.

Types of Poses

There are several types of poses in yoga depending on how you move your body to perform them. These are some of the fundamental yoga positions.

  • Standing poses: Standing poses are often done first in a yoga class to “build heat” and warm you up. In vinyasa/flow style yoga, standing poses are strung together to form long sequences. In Hatha classes, you may do the standing poses individually with rest between each pose.
  • Balancing poses:Beginners’ balances are an important way to build the core strength necessary for many of yoga’s more advanced postures. Though balances may seem difficult at first, you will find that you can improve markedly with regular practice.
  • Backbends: As a beginner, you will generally begin with gentle spine flexion and extension, eventually moving to deeper bends. Since you rarely move like this in daily life, backbends are essential for spinal health and longevity.1
  • Seated poses: Seated stretches, which often focus on stretching the hips and hamstrings, are usually done toward the end of a yoga class after the body is warm. Placing a folded yoga blanket or a block under your seat is an excellent way to make yourself more comfortable in these postures.
  • Resting or supine poses:It’s essential to get to know your resting poses, especially child’s pose, which you are encouraged to do whenever you need a break during a yoga session. These resting poses continue the hip and hamstring work of the seated poses and provide gentle back-bending, twisting, and inversion.
  1. Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukah Svanasana)

Pose type: Standing

Downward Facing Dog goes hand in hand with yoga, but just because you’ve heard of this pose doesn’t mean it’s easy to do at 31 Yoga Poses for Beginners.

Beginners often lean too far forward in this posture, making it more like a plank. Instead, remember to keep your weight mostly in your legs and reach your hips high, with your heels stretching toward the floor (they do not need to touch the floor).

Bend your knees a little to facilitate the move if you have tight hamstrings. Keep feet parallel.

  1. Mountain Pose (Tadasana)Mountain Pose (Tadasana)

Pose type: Standing

Mountain pose may not be as famous as Downward Facing Dog, but it is equally important. This is an excellent time to talk about alignment, which is how your body parts are ideally arranged in each pose.

The alignment in Mountain pose draws a straight line from the crown of your head to your heels, with the shoulders and pelvis stacked along the line. Every person’s body is different, so focus on rooting down with your feet and lengthening up with your spine.

A yoga teacher can talk you through this in class, reminding you to slide your shoulders down your back and keep weight on your heels.

  1. Warrior I (Virabhadrasana I)Warrior One

Pose type: Standing

The critical thing to remember in Warrior I is that the hips face forward. Think of your hip points as headlights—they should be roughly parallel with the front of your mat. This may require you to take a wider stance.

  1. Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II)

Pose type: Standing

Unlike Warrior I, in Warrior II, the hips face the side of the mat. The hips and shoulders open to the side when moving from Warrior I to Warrior II.

You’ll also rotate your back foot, angling your toes at about 45 degrees. In both Warrior poses, aim to keep your front knee stacked over the ankle. Your front toes face forward.

  1. Extended Side Angle (Utthita Parvakonasana)

Pose type: Standing

One modification of Extended Side Angle Pose is to bring your forearm to your thigh instead of placing your hand on the floor. It should rest lightly on your thigh and not bear much weight. This modification enables you to keep your shoulders open. You can also place your hand on a yoga block.

If you reach toward the floor before you’re ready, you may compromise the position of the torso, turning your chest toward the floor instead of toward the ceiling at 31 Yoga Poses for Beginners.

 

  1. Triangle Pose (Utthita Trikonasana)

Pose type: Standing

The Triangle can be modified like Extended Side Angle, using a yoga block for your bottom hand if you aren’t comfortable reaching your arm to the floor. You can also rest your hand higher up on your leg—on your shin or thigh—but avoid putting it directly on your knee.

Don’t hesitate to micro-bend both knees if the pose feels uncomfortable. This won’t look or feel like a pronounced bend, but rather, just enough of a movement to unlock your knees and ease tension in your hamstrings.

Triangle offers many benefits: Strength (in the legs), flexibility (in the groin, hamstrings, and hips, as well as opening the chest and shoulders), and balance.

  1. Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana)

To do Standing Forward, Bend, exhale, and fold over your legs. If the hamstrings feel a little tight at first, bend the knees so that you can release your spine. Let the head hang heavy.

Keep the legs gently bent with feet hip-width apart for better stability (you can straighten the legs, but it is unnecessary). You can clasp opposite elbows with opposite hands while swaying gently from side to side.

 

  1. Reverse Warrior (Viparita Virabhadrasana)

Pose type: Standing

Reverse Warrior shares a similar stance to Warrior I and incorporates a slight heart-opening side bend or optional backbend.

To stay steady in the posture, it’s essential to root into the sole of the front foot, anchor the outside edge of the back foot, and engage the glutes and hamstrings.

Focus your gaze up toward the palm as it reaches overhead. Keep your front knee tracking over your ankle as you sink deeper into the hips.

 

  1. Garland Pose (Malasana)

Pose type: Standing

Squatting isn’t something familiar to most 21st-century humans. However, it’s an excellent stretch for the muscles around the pelvis, making it what is often called a “hip opener” in yoga.

Perhaps surprisingly, it’s also good for your feet, which are often neglected. If squatting is difficult for you, props can help: Try sitting on a block or rolling a yoga towel or blanket under the heels. Keep pressing your heels down toward the floor at 31 Yoga Poses for Beginners.

 

  1. Half Forward Bend (Ardha Uttanasana)Half Forward Bend (Ardha Uttanasana)

Pose type: Standing

This flat-back forward bend (you may also hear it called “halfway lift”) is most often done as part of the sun salutation sequence. As such, it’s often rushed, but it’s worth it to take the time to work on it independently. Figuring out when your back is flat is part of developing body awareness.

At first, it’s helpful to glance in the mirror. You may find you need to let your hands come off the ground and onto your legs as high as is necessary to keep the back flat. Gently bend your knees as needed, too.

  1. Pyramid Pose (Parsvottanasana)

Pose type: Standing

Standing forward bends like Pyramid pose are an ideal time to break out your yoga blocks to make the pose more accessible. Place a block on either side of your front foot to “raise the floor” to a level your hands can comfortably reach. Your hamstrings will still enjoy a nice stretch, and they’ll thank you for your consideration.

  1. Raised Hands Pose (Urdhva Hastasana)

Pose type: Standing

Built upon the foundation of Mountain pose, Urdhva Hastasana requires you to continue to root into the ground with your legs while reaching for the sky with your arms. The result is a full body stretch, a great way to usher in the physical part of your yoga session.

  1. Low Lunge

Pose type: Standing

The alignment of your lunge is super important. Try to make a right angle with your front leg so that your knee is directly over your ankle and your thigh is parallel to the floor. At the same time, keep your hips level and energize your back leg.

Many people don’t go deep enough into the front leg and sag in the back leg. Glance in the mirror to make sure you’re getting it right.

To modify, place your hands on blocks and/or lower your back leg to the mat (with a blanket or towel as needed for cushioning).

  1. Tree Pose (Vrksasana)

Pose type: Standing/Balancing

Tree pose is an excellent introduction to balancing postures. If you feel yourself beginning to topple, you can step out of it easily. Try not to create a counterbalance by jutting your hip to the side of your standing leg.

Focus your gaze on a spot on the floor, and try varying foot positions to see what works for you: Heel resting low on the ankle, on a block, or above or below the knee.

  1. Downward Facing Dog Split

Pose type: Standing/balancing

The introduction of appropriate balancing postures helps build core strength. In Down Dog Split, it’s not about how high you can lift your leg. Instead, focus on rooting into the hands and keeping your weight distributed evenly in both hands.

  1. Plank PosePlank Pose

Pose type: Balancing

It might seem strange to call plank a balancing pose since the risk of falling over is pretty minimal, but it gets to the heart of what this pose is about—core strength.

A strong core is essential for so many yoga poses, including standing balances and arm balances, and plank is an excellent way to work on your stability and stamina. Aim to keep your hips and spine in a neutral position.

  1. Cat-Cow Stretch (Chakravakasana)

Pose type: Backbend

It’s the best of both worlds: spinal extension followed by spinal flexion. Moving back and forth ​awakens and warms the back, improves body awareness, and is a basic introduction to doing a vinyasa sequence by coordinating your movements to your breath at 31 Yoga Poses for Beginners.

Cat-Cow may be the most important pose you learn when starting yoga, especially if you have back pain. Even if you never make it to more than a few yoga classes, continue doing this stretch on your own.

  1. Bridge Pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)

Pose type: Backbend

Bridge pose is a gentle way to explore spine extension, also known as a backbend. It’s a good idea to start incorporating this type of movement because it improves the mobility of your spine and counters the effects of too much sitting.

If Bridge seems too intense, try a ​supported bridge with a block. Remember to root into the feet, which helps you use your leg muscles to support the pose.

  1. Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana)Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana)

Pose type: Backbend

In flow yoga, Cobra is done multiple times per class as part of the vinyasa sequence of poses. While a full cobra with straight arms offers a deeper backbend, you’ll build more back strength by doing low Cobras in which you lift your chest without pressing into your hands.

Root into your feet, lengthen through the crown of the head, and broaden through the collarbones as you lift the sternum. It’s also key to anchor your pelvis to the floor before you lift.

  1. Knees, Chest, and Chin (Ashtanga Namaskara)

Pose type: Backbend

Ashtanga Namaskara was once taught to all beginning yoga students as an alternative to and preparation for Chaturanga Dandasana. In recent years, it’s fallen out of favor.

As a result, some students are rushed into chaturanga before they are ready. It belongs in the sun salutation series for beginners. Plus, it’s an excellent warm-up for deeper backbends.

Take your time and enter the pose slowly from a plank position. Start by lowering your knees to the yoga mat, with toes tucked under.

Then keep your elbows pressed toward your body as you lower your chest and chin to the floor. Shoulders

  1. Staff Pose (Dandasana)Staff Pose (Dandasana)

Pose type: Seated

Staff pose is akin to a seated version of mountain pose (above) in that it offers alignment guidelines for various other seated poses. Engage the leg muscles and flex the feet.

Lift the chest and relax the shoulders. You can also allow a gentle bend in the knees, which can create ease for the shoulders to stack over the hips.

Modify by using a block or a folded blanket or two if you have trouble sitting straight with your butt flat on the floor. In a typical yoga practice, this pose leads to a forward bend.

  1. Cobbler’s Pose (Baddha Konasana)Cobbler's Pose (Baddha Konasana)

Pose type: Seated

Let gravity work on stretching your inner thighs in Cobbler’s pose. If you find this position difficult, props can make a big difference. Sitting on a block, cushion, or blanket raises your hips so your knees can open more naturally at 31 Yoga Poses for Beginners.

If your knees are high, it takes a lot of effort to hold them up, and your legs need to be relaxed to enjoy the benefits of the stretch. The solution is to place a block (or something else supportive) under each knee to give them something to rest upon.

Since it’s ​unusual to sit this way in everyday life, this pose stretches neglected areas of the body, particularly the adductor groups of the groin.

 

  1. Easy Pose (Sukhasana)easy pose

Pose type: Seated

Sitting cross-legged doesn’t have to be a difficult position. As with Cobbler’s pose, the judicious use of props can transform an uncomfortable position into one of ease so you can begin to reverse the effects of too much chair sitting.

 

  1. Half Lord of the Fishes Pose (Ardha Matsyendrasana)Half Lord of the Fishes Pose (Ardha Matsyendrasana)

Pose type: Seated

Twists are an essential part of yoga. They help improve spinal mobility and can even get things moving along your digestive tract (yes, twists can relieve constipation).2

It’s OK to extend your bottom leg in this pose if it’s uncomfortable to have it bent behind you. You can also modify it by sitting on a blanket. Placing the bent leg inside the extended leg is great for easing shoulder, hip, and spine rotation.

 

  1. Head to Knee Pose (Janu Sirsasana)Head to Knee Pose (Janu Sirsasana)

Pose type: Seated

Forward bends can be tricky for anyone with tight hamstrings (i.e., many people). Janu ​Sirsasana is more accessible because you only stretch one leg at a time.​​​​​​​​​​​​​ You can also use a strap around the foot to help extend your reach.

  1. Seated Forward Bend (Paschimottanasana)Seated Forward Bend (Paschimottanasana)

Pose type: Seated

There are many hamstrings stretches in beginning yoga for a good reason. The hamstrings tend to get short and tight in people who sit a lot, which can contribute to low back pain. Stretching them, as you do during the seated forward bend, is helpful.

This pose offers a stretch to the entire back of the body. Bend at your hips, not your waist, and keep your neck aligned with your spine.

  1. Seated Wide Angle Straddle (Upavistha Konasana)Seated Wide Angle Straddle (Upavishta Konasana)

Pose type: Seated

Opening your legs wide creates a slightly different stretch from Paschimottanasana. To do this stretch:

  1. Separate your legs into a wide position.
  2. Flex both feet and engage both the legs down strongly, coming into upavistha konasana.
  3. Forward bend to the center, extending the spine on your inhales and deepening the pose on your exhales.

Though it may look like the mandate is to bring your chest to the floor, it’s not about that. Instead, concentrate on keeping your back flat, rotating the pelvis forward instead of crunching forward through your spine, and keeping your feet flexed. If you do all three of these things, it doesn’t matter how far forward you lean at 31 Yoga Poses for Beginners.

  1. Happy Baby Pose (Ananda Balasana)Happy Baby Pose (Ananda Balasana)

Pose type: Supine

Happy baby is a wonderful way to finish a yoga session. It’s also an excellent example of the vital interplay between effort and ease in yoga.

You want to exert a little pressure on your feet to draw them toward your armpits, but not so much that your tailbone lifts off the floor. You don’t want to go to the extreme but find the middle ground.

  1. Supine Spinal Twist (Supta Matsyendrasana)Supine Spinal Twist (Supta Matsyendrasana)

Pose type: Supine

A passive twist is a classic way to end a yoga session, although there’s no rule against doing this pose at the beginning of your practice. The position of the legs is up to you.

You can bend them both; you can straighten the top leg and hold onto your foot if you have the flexibility, or you can twist the legs around one another (as in Eagle pose) to stretch the outer hips. Keep knees in line with the waist.

  1. Child’s Pose (Balasana)

Pose type: Resting

Child’s pose is essential because it’s the position you assume whenever you need a break during a yoga class. If you ever feel fatigued, you don’t have to wait for the teacher to call for a break.

Just move into Child’s pose and rejoin the class when you’re ready. It provides a gentle stretch for the back, hips, thighs, and ankles, but does not challenge strength or balance.

Taking Child’s pose is really up to your discretion, which happens to introduce one of yoga’s best lessons: being attuned to the signals your body is giving and respecting them above any external directions at 31 Yoga Poses for Beginners.

  1. Corpse Pose (Savasana)Corpse Pose (Savasana)

Pose type: Resting

Most yoga sessions end lying flat on your back in Corpse pose. It’s a critical transition between the end of your yoga practice and the rest of your day. Bringing the body to stillness challenges the mind to maintain its calm. You may find this difficult at first, but it gets easier with practice.

A Word From Verywell

Give yourself plenty of time to learn these poses. Dedicate some time daily (or every few days) to relax in a comfortable space and review your practice. It’s a good idea to wear workout tank tops with low support and four-way stretch to move with you through poses. With regular yoga sessions, you’ll find that your body moves comfortably from one pose to the next for improved physical function and wellness.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

  • Is it safe for beginners to learn yoga at home?

Yes! Many new yogis start their practice at home. Many people are unable to get to a studio, making the home a much more convenient and budget-friendly option. Regardless of whether you do yoga at home or in a studio you need a good yoga mat—a great yoga gift for yogis of all levels.

Learn More: How to Start an At-Home Yoga Practice

 

  • How many times a week should beginners do yoga?

If you are completely new to exercise, a daily practice may seem overwhelming. Try do some yoga three days per week. But with easy poses like the ones listed here, there is no harm in doing yoga every day.

Learn More: Is It Worth Doing Yoga Once a Week?

  • What are the benefits of doing yoga?

Yoga is good for your body and mind. You’ll notice your body getting stronger and more flexible with a regular practice. Yoga also provide you time to breathe and meditate for emotional wellness.